Dress with sheen will slip over bulges


Q: I love the simplicity of the new slip dresses that are so popular now. My problem is that while I am narrow on top and have a small waist, my hips and thighs are big. Is there a dress for me?

A: Yes, according to Philippine-born New York designer Josie Natori.

She says the dress to choose should be slim on top and then flare from the waist:

"An uneven hemline can also help. The skirt just slithers over the hips and thighs without revealing bulges. Look for one in a light, almost transparent fabric such as a satin chiffon. It has a sheen, and that's the news in fabrics."

Ms. Natori recommends a strapless nude body suit to wear under a sheer dress. She believes in keeping accessories to a minimum, especially when the dress is in a brilliant color. "For jewelry I see just a pair of swinging drop earrings. On the feet, high-heeled simple mules, in pale gold."

Q: I am going on a second honeymoon to Europe, stopping in Rome, Vienna, Paris and London. I want to look chic and pretty, and I have most of my wardrobe planned.

One problem is my handbags. I want to keep the number to a minimum and have one bag that will make me feel secure about the money and passport I'm carrying.

A: Laura Moltedo of Italy's Bottega Veneta says you can get by with three bags -- one for the plane, one for every day and a little satin evening bag.

For the plane, she recommends what she calls a "doctor's bag." With a wide base and a strong clasp, it's structured and roomy:

"It shouldn't be too big, but it should carry everything you'll need on the flight, from a book to medicines. It should have a deep zippered pocket for passport and traveler's checks." Ms. Moltedo's "doctor's bag" is black with brown trim.

For daytime she suggests a taupe flat bag that slides easily into a suitcase.

"The taupe will go with every outfit. It should have a shoulder strap but not be too big. Avoid putting too much in the bag -- it will drag and crease your light clothes.

"Hotels have security boxes for guests' valuables, so there's no need to risk taking them around the city with you. Keep photocopies of your passport, traveler's checks and credit cards in your suitcase."

Q: I'm sorry to admit I've recently gained some weight and now my round face is even rounder. Which hair style will make my face look thinner? My hair has a lot of natural curl.

A: Steven White at New York's Pierre Michel hair salon suggests keeping the fullness on top to prevent your round face from looking rounder:

"Try a geometric style that's slightly layered -- with the hair longer on top and shorter around the ears. You can sweep your hair back or brush it to the side to give height and elongate your face. Make sure your cut goes with your natural curl or wave. A short haircut can be as feminine as a long one."

Q: I'm petite -- just 5 feet tall and very slender. I look much younger than my 23 years, and at my job I'm the butt of endless jokes about how I should "still be in school."

I try to dress my age, but my big problem is jewelry. Everything that's sophisticated looks too big on me. What should I look for?

A: Part of your problem is that big jewelry has been fashionable. The good news is that the trend is reversing and smaller pieces are coming in.

Long strands of beads look new this season. They'll give you a vertical line that will make you seem taller. Choose them carefully -- they should be between 20 and 30 inches long. One strand may be a big enough statement if the colors are bright. Two or three may be necessary if you decide on a neutral shade. Try pendants -- two worn together can be quite sophisticated.

Play with scaled-down pins. Often a pin will add pizazz to a suit jacket if your blouse is busy. Earrings should be simply shaped buttons or small drops.

Remember, it's best to err on the side of simplicity. Otherwise you may look like a little girl trying on her mother's jewelry.

Finally, don't buy jewelry after merely checking the look in a mirror. You need a full-length mirror to gauge if the proportion is right for your petite figure.

Elsa Klensch is Style Editor for Cable New Network. Her program can be seen each weekend on CNN. Check television listings for show times.

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